New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Wednesday his plan to invest $4.8 million toward agencies and efforts specifically to “promote the growth” of the adult use cannabis industry, expected to launch later in 2022.
The cannabis industry will be a “boon” for the state, creating jobs and generating tax revenue, while “building wealth in historically underserved communities,” Adams said in an announcement about this proposed allocation of funding in his “Renew, Rebuild, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery” executive budget plan. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act, which set ambitious equity goals, into law last March.
The mayor is pitching the plan in part as a way to help New York City get back on its feet after the Covid-19 pandemic wrought economic devastation across a number of industries, including the city’s tourism, entertainment, and hospitality businesses. The forthcoming adult-use cannabis industry is expected to be one of the nation’s largest, estimated to generate almost $1.3 billion in first-year sales and to “support” roughly 20,000 jobs in three years.
Adams is “committed to building the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” Adams’ office told Cannabis Wire.
“This new investment is one of many steps the administration will be taking to make sure that communities most impacted by the war on drugs can reap the benefits of this burgeoning new industry,” Adams’ spokesperson continued.
At the state level, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $200 million public-private cannabis equity fund as part of her New York State budget plan, which would “promote equity and economic justice in New York’s cannabis industry.”
Meanwhile, the state’s cannabis regulators have worked to lay the foundation for the state’s industry by staffing up the Office of Cannabis Management, releasing their first public education campaign, the Department of Labor has announced a “Cannabis Workforce Site,” which regulators say is a “one-stop shop” for people job hunting in state’s forthcoming adult use cannabis industry, and expanding the state’s existing medical cannabis industry. Hochul signed a bill in February to allow the state’s hemp farmers to grow the cannabis that will line adult use shops’ shelves once the market launches.
In other words, as Adams put it, the funding announcements “come as the city prepares for an influx of new licensed dispensaries and other businesses.”
“With a new regulated adult-use cannabis market on the immediate horizon, now is the time for our city to make proactive investments to ensure the people disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of these substances can reap the benefits of the new industry,” Adams said in a statement.
Drilling down into specifics, Adams proposes that the funding be used across a handful of agencies for “outreach,” including the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ). From there, details appear to be a work in progress. These agencies are planning to work over the next few months to “begin identifying stakeholders in impacted communities, launching a public education tour to educate people about the new process, promoting an educational media campaign, and assessing the needs of interested parties so they can better tailor their services and programs to assist those interested in participating in the industry.”
The announcement notably references the EDC being “prepared to offer assistance to entrepreneurs seeking to access the financing and real estate required to start and grow their businesses.”
Cannabis Wire has asked the EDC for specifics and will update this story with comment.
“These strategic investments are maximizing the chances we can learn from other mistakes and channel the expected wealth from cannabis into communities previously criminalized and those most in need of economic opportunities,” Lindsay Greene, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, and member, 2018 New York City Task Force on Cannabis Legalization, said in a statement.
State lawmakers and regulators have done plenty of work toward setting up an equitable cannabis industry, too. The MRTA set the goal of issuing 50% of licenses to equity applicants, but work on equity has been ongoing. In March, regulators approved a proposal to allow “justice involved” applicants — or those who have a record of cannabis conviction, or have a parent or guardian with one — to apply for conditional dispensary licenses before others, like the state’s medical cannabis industry, are given the greenlight to apply.
Chris Alexander, executive director of OCM, said at the March CCB meeting that New York cannabis regulators are looking to other states to learn from their equity lessons.
“We’ve seen how access to capital and real estate have been significant barriers to getting equity entrepreneurs into the space. And so we’re doing the work now to remove those barriers and provide real, meaningful support,” Alexander said.
Note: This story was updated with comment from Mayor Eric Adams’ office.